CONNECTWISE AUTOMATION NATION — Managed service providers, solution partners, VARs and others gathered this week in Orlando for ConnectWise’s Automation Nation 2018 conference.
The theme of the conference, which drew 1,300 attendees, was “It Takes a Team,” stressing the importance of taking a team approach to developing, selling and delivering products and services.
Craig Fulton, ConnectWise‘s chief product officer, said his company is putting its product team more in front of partners because “we want our product team to get more knowledge so that they understand what the partners are going through and can move faster on enhancing the product.”
“The partners feel like we’re more in touch with them than we’ve ever been, that we’re engaging more with their community than we have in a long time,” he said. “It’s because we want to make sure that we don’t forget our partners. We want to continue to provide a platform for them that we can use while we seek out this big ecosystem.”
ConnectWise is placing more emphasis on managed security, which CEO Arnie Bellini said is important as MSPs are increasingly responsible for their end customers’ security, and laws similar to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be introduced globally.
ConnectWise’s products, such as Manage, Automate and Sell, are used by more than 22,000 partners in more than 70 countries. In the Solutions Pavilion, vendors gave demonstrations of their latest ConnectWise integrations.
Scroll through our gallery for highlights from this conference.
Craig Fulton, ConnectWise's chief product officer, gave the opening keynote and told attendees the most successful companies now are focusing on the customer first and technology second.
"We are a service-oriented business that just happens to be dealing with technology," he said. "If you are, too, you're heading in the right direction."
ConnectWise announced the winners of its inaugural Tech Tank innovation competition. MySlice
won first place for its proof of concept designed to automate the calculation and reporting of bonuses and commissions. YayPay placed second for its cloud-based accounts receivable automation solution, and My Self Service Portal, a ConnectWise Automate and Manage integration that will allow end users to solve common problems and service requests with automaton, placed third.
MySlice will use its $100,000 prize money to build a ConnectWise Manage integration that automates employee bonus programs.
ConnectWise offered demonstrations of its solutions, such as business management
, remote monitoring and management, quote and proposal automation, and cloud billing, monitoring and management. The theme of Automation Nation was "It Takes a Team."
"Companies should start looking at how they structure things around teams because when we work with our partners and we look at who's successful and where some people are having some pains, it's about how they're structuring their teams and building their solutions, and delivering for their customers," Fulton said. "So we introduced this concept of technology teams as a way for them to structure a business."
At its booth in the Solutions Pavilion, StorageCraft
demonstrated its new ConnectWise Professional Services Automation (PSA) integration and Remote Management Monitoring (RMM) plug-in.
“We have more than a thousand partners using StorageCraft PSA Integration and RMM ConnectWise plug-ins," said Douglas Brockett, StorageCraft's president. "We have made significant investments in ensuring our partners experience the best possible integration with the ConnectWise platform. We will continue to invest and innovate with regular updates to our existing solutions as well as new product offerings.”
Security information and event management (SIEM) vendor AlienVault
has been working with ConnectWise for about four years and last November became one of its technology integration partners.
"In the channel, we've got resale and managed security services ... and we're finding the majority of customers want to have somebody in the middle of this because security's not easy," said Mike LaPeters, AlienVault’s vice president of global channel sales. "They want to have a friend of some sort to either help by implementing it or running it, or doing the entire thing. There's a lot of different ways of engaging the channel with a product like ours."
Backup and disaster recovery
has been integrated with ConnectWise Manage and Automate for more than two years.
"We continue to evolve and we're probably on our eighth release of updates to these integrations," said Gregory Howard, Acronis' senior director of cloud sales. "The goal is to make it as easy as possible for an MSP to provide backup and disaster recovery through one console so they don't have to come to us, they don't have to build API integrations, it's all through their Manage and Automate consoles. So the relationship has been huge for us."
Antivirus software provider VIPRE
demonstrated its ConnectWise Automation integration. It now is working on an integration with Manage. ConnectWise said VIPRE allows its partners to "deliver superior endpoint protection with the most competitive margins in the industry."
In the Solutions Pavilion, ConnectWise partners were invited to ask questions regarding Manage
, Automate and other products. Later this year, ConnectWise will be launching a new solution menu and customer portal.
Automation Nation attendees take a World Cup viewing break in the Barracuda MSP Recharge Lab. Barracuda MSP formerly was Intronis
, and Intronis Backup is integrated with ConnectWise to streamline backup billing and ticketing.
During his keynote, internet pioneer Bob Metcalfe
talked about how he invented Ethernet
at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, and how connectivity since has exploded globally. He also founded billion-dollar internet startup 3Com, which went public in 1984 and after 30 years became part of HP in 2010.
"Connectivity has come so quickly we're not sure how to handle it," he said. "There are many surprises ahead."
Arnie Bellini, ConnectWise’s CEO (right), joined Metcalfe on stage and said what the Ethernet inventor shared "shows you how fast this is moving" and that he "changed the world."
Metcalfe also told attendees he's glad the Federal Communications Commission ended net neutrality, adding that the idea of treating all bits the same is "absurd." He also said security now presents an opportunity for "all of us to work on in a differentiated way."